Labour market information Explore careers by essential skills

Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

You can use this profile to:
Find a job
Write your resume and prepare for job interviews
Plan your career
Determine which career may best suit you based on your skill set
Manage your workforce
Write job postings, assess employee performance and develop training

Find out more about this occupation

For more information on this occupation, look at the related job profile. It provides information on prevailing wages, job prospects and other skill requirements.

Look up job profile

Nursery and Greenhouse Operators and Managers (0822)

Nursery and greenhouse operators and managers plan, organize, direct and control the activities of nursery and greenhouse staff who grow and market trees, shrubs, flowers and plants.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read e-mail messages and letters. For example, they read customers' questions about specific trees, shrubs, flowers and plants in letters and e-mail messages. Nursery operators and managers read e-mail messages and letters in which suppliers confirm the availability of requested garden and lawn care equipment. Growers and production managers read about upcoming training sessions in horticulture in e-mail messages and letters from provincial ministries of agriculture. (2)
  • Read short text passages on labels and in forms. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators read comments about customers' orders in purchase order forms. Growers and production managers read application notes, warnings and other text on the labels of pesticides and fertilizers. They read instructions for the safe handling and storage of these chemical products and notes about first aid in material safety data sheets. (2)
  • Read short text passages in catalogues and product information sheets. For example, growers and production managers read about specific plants' appearance, growing conditions and life cycles in plant suppliers' catalogues. They read about insect predators, their targets and their release conditions in product information sheets from natural pest control product suppliers. (2)
  • Read manuals and guides. For example, they read reference guides to gain knowledge about procedures for insect, disease and weed control. Growers read horticultural guides such as the Ball Redbooks to learn methods for crop production, irrigation, growth regulation, nutrition and postharvest care. (3)
  • Read articles and features in newsletters and trade magazines. For example, greenhouse growers and production managers read articles and features in publications such as Greenhouse Canada and growertalks.com to stay abreast of new technologies for temperature regulation, irrigation, glazing and energy conservation. Christmas tree farm operators read articles in newsletters such as Ontario Christmas Tree News to obtain information about tree diseases and treatments and lessons learned by other industry members. (3)
  • May read articles in scientific journals. For example, growers of intensively-cultivated crops such as mushrooms read selected articles in botanical sciences and agronomy journals to learn about experiments with new biological, genetic, physical, cultural and chemical methods for controlling destructive pests and pathogens. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Locate data on labels. For example, growers and production managers scan labels on pest control products to identify product names, hazardous ingredients, concentrations and other data. Nursery managers scan labels on tree, shrub, flower and plant containers to identify common and Latin names, hardiness zones, ideal temperatures and sun and light requirements. (1)
  • Obtain information from sketches, pictures and photographs. For example, growers and production managers scan coloured pictures of plants infected with varied types of diseases and pests in order to assess the health and condition of flowers and nursery crops. (2)
  • Locate data in lists, tables and schedules. For example, they scan price lists to confirm wholesale and retail prices on nursery and greenhouse products. Growers and production managers scan tables in suppliers' catalogues to locate data such as plant shapes, foliages, spreads and heights. They scan calendars to locate data such as seeding and feeding dates, numbers planted and temperatures. (2)
  • Enter data into lists, tables and schedules. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators enter product names and selling prices into price lists. They enter data on sales, inventories and orders into various tables. Growers and production managers enter plant names and dates into planting, harvesting and care calendars. They enter dates, hours and employees' names into staff schedules. (2)
  • Locate data in entry forms. For example, they locate data such as dates, customers' names and addresses, product identifiers, quantities ordered and modes of payment in purchase order forms. (2)
  • Complete forms such as fax cover sheets, purchase orders and plant maintenance forms. For example, they record quantitative data and mark checkboxes on purchase orders for materials such as fertilizers, garden and lawn care equipment and greenhouse accessories. They require data from several sources to complete these forms. (3)
  • Locate data in graphs. For example, they scan growth graphs to locate expected tree, shrub, flower and plant heights over time. (3)
  • May locate and interpret data in assembly drawings. For example, greenhouse managers and operators analyze assembly drawings to locate the placement and orientation of parts in irrigation pumps. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write reminders, notes to co-workers and short text entries in forms. For example, growers and production managers write short notes to remind nursery and greenhouse workers of unfinished planting, harvesting and care tasks. They write brief comments about pesticide application, irrigation and deadheading into plant maintenance forms. (1)
  • Write e-mail messages and short letters. For example, they write e-mail messages to answer customers' questions about nursery, greenhouse and floriculture products. Nursery managers write e-mail messages to ask suppliers about the availability of garden and lawn care equipment. They write letters of complaint to suppliers when products are damaged and of inferior quality. (2)
  • Prepare procedures for nursery and greenhouse workers. For example, growers and production managers write procedures for tasks such as planting, transplanting, feeding and spraying stock. They describe tasks to be performed, materials, products and equipment to be used, time frames to be achieved and other requirements. They use clear and concise language to reduce ambiguities and the possibilities of misinterpretation. (3)
  • Write reports. For example, nursery operators write marketing plans which identify new initiatives to increase the visibility and sales of their nurseries. Growers and production managers write investigation reports following the discovery of damaged and diseased flowers and nursery crops. They describe pests found and diseases diagnosed, variables investigated to identify causes, and patterns in occurrences. They also suggest remedial measures and treatments. (4)
  • May write the text for leaflets, brochures, catalogues, newspapers, newsletters and Internet sites to promote their products and services. For example, operators write leaflets, brochures, catalogues and websites for potential customers in which they describe their operations, collections and personalized services. They write product information sheets and newspaper and newsletter articles about trees, shrubs, flowers and plants and their selection, planting, protection and maintenance. They have to gather, select and rewrite information from various sources for a mixed audience of horticulturists and gardening amateurs. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Count cash and make change for payments from customers for nursery, greenhouse and floriculture products. (2)
  • Calculate and verify purchase order and invoice amounts. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators calculate and verify line amounts, taxes, volume discounts and totals on invoices for nursery stock, trees, shrubs, cut flowers and other products which they sell. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Determine the lowest prices for materials and equipment. For example, growers and production managers determine the lowest prices for materials such as plant bulbs, seeds and cuttings, pesticides and fertilizers. They check prices offered by several suppliers and determine which suppliers offer the lowest prices. (3)
  • May calculate amounts for accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliations and summaries in general ledgers. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators add and subtract business transactions not listed on bank statements to produce monthly bank reconciliations. (3)
  • Prepare resource allocation matrices, calendars and work schedules for the growing and marketing of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. For example, growers and production managers prepare calendars and staff schedules for soil preparation, planting, transplanting, spraying stock, fertilizing, harvesting and potting. They have to adjust calendars and schedules frequently because of bad weather conditions, staff shortages and outbreaks of diseases. (4)
  • Prepare budgets for the growing and marketing of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. For example, growers and production managers prepare budgets for soil preparation, planting, transplanting, spraying stock, fertilizing, harvesting and potting. They take into consideration the unit costs of labour, equipment and materials such as plant bulbs, seeds and cuttings, pesticides and fertilizers. They factor in the time needed to locate materials and the probability of obtaining volume discounts. They need to be fairly accurate to minimize budget variances. (4)
  • Collect and analyse financial data to improve profitability. For example, they analyze deviations from budgets and expected sales; they compare budgeted amounts to actual expenditures and expected sales to actual sales for all products grown and sold. They identify items that were underestimated in previous seasons and trends in the prices of materials such as plant bulbs, seeds and cuttings, pesticides and fertilizers to improve the accuracy of future cost estimates. (4)
  • May calculate amounts for payroll, utility and tax accounts. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators calculate payroll amounts. They multiply times worked by hourly rates and then deduct federal and provincial income taxes, contributions to pension plans and employment insurance fees. They have to use different hourly rates for overtime and holidays. (4)
  • May prepare financial statements. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators prepare balance sheets, income and expense statements, and statements of cash flows. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure sizes, distances, angles and volumes using common measuring tools. For example, growers and production managers use graduated containers to measure amounts of fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides. Tree growers use tapes to measure circumferences of trees at breast height. They use surveyor's levels to measure land slopes. (1)
  • Calculate quantities and amounts. For example, growers and production managers calculate areas of greenhouses and cold frames, volumes of water needed to irrigate them and numbers of plants which they can house. They calculate areas of diseased crops which have to be treated with fungicide, quantities of dilute solutions needed for these jobs and the volumes of fungicide and water needed to make them. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • Manage large inventories of materials, products and equipment. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators manage inventories of products for sale. They manage inventories of marketing materials such as leaflets, brochures and catalogues. Growers manage inventories of materials such as plant bulbs, plugs, seeds, cuttings, pesticides and fertilizers. They establish desirable inventory levels and calculate turnover rates. They adjust inventory levels to reflect production needs. They count inventories and calculate quantities needed to bring inventories to desirable levels. (3)
  • Collect and analyse data to monitor growing conditions and the health and survival of trees, shrubs and plants. For example, nursery growers and production managers collect and analyse data on variables such as outside temperature, rainfall, soil acidity, the incidence of diseases and pests and the application of pesticide to trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. They interpret data to identify relationships between variables and to assess the effectiveness of horticultural methods. Greenhouse growers and production managers analyse trends in outside temperatures and wind speeds so that they can adjust environmental controls. They analyse inside light levels over several days to determine watering requirements. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate quantities and amounts. For example, growers and production managers estimate quantities of bulbs, seeds and cuttings to be planted to account for kill during growth. They take into account the average survival rates of the various species over several years. (2)
  • Estimate sales volumes for upcoming seasons. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators consider sales trends in previous seasons, the strength of local economies and the general business climate to predict sales volumes which may be achievable. (3)
  • Estimate times and durations to carry out job tasks. For example, growers and production managers estimate times needed by nursery and greenhouse workers for soil preparation, planting, transplanting, spraying stock, fertilizing, harvesting and potting tasks. They consider the experience and skills of their crews and the likelihood of delays occurring. (3)
  • Estimate attributes such as size, distance and weight. For example, growers and production managers estimate the final heights of various species of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. They consider growth to date, average growth for the species, soil nutrients and current growing conditions. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Give directions to workers and discuss ongoing tasks with them. For example, growers and production managers discuss the condition of damaged trees, shrubs, flowers and plants with nursery and greenhouse workers and provide instructions for insect, disease and weed control. (2)
  • Negotiate prices and coordinate deliveries of products with customers and suppliers. For example, they negotiate the wholesale prices of nursery, greenhouse and floriculture products with retail outlet owners. They coordinate the deliveries of tractors, sprayers and trucks with equipment suppliers. (2)
  • Discuss technical matters with co-workers, colleagues and suppliers. For example, mushroom growers may discuss new pest control methods with researchers. Greenhouse operators and managers discuss new technologies for temperature regulation, irrigation, glazing and energy conservation with colleagues and suppliers. (3)
  • Lead discussions at staff meetings. For example, they lead discussions about topics such as staff schedules, growing, inventories, marketing, sales and customer service. They also brainstorm solutions to problems such as staff shortages and underperforming crew members. (3)
  • Provide advice to retail and wholesale customers. For example, nursery operators and managers provide advice to retail customers on the selection of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. They question customers to identify their preferences and budgets and to acquire information about their particular terrain, soil conditions and sun exposures. They recommend products to suit customers' needs. They also answer questions from customers about problem weeds, grasses, soil conditions, insects and diseases found in their lawns and suggest treatment plans. (3)
  • Lead and facilitate training sessions. For example, nursery growers and production managers train their crews on planting, transplanting, feeding, irrigation and harvesting procedures. They demonstrate procedures and facilitate discussions. They question trainees to ascertain their understanding of procedures. They establish trust and encourage trainees' active involvement in the learning process. (3)
  • Make presentations to groups of co-workers, colleagues and customers. For example, growers may deliver presentations about the treatment of damaged and diseased plants to groups of horticultural students and specialists. They answer questions from audiences. They tailor presentation style and language to fit audiences' characteristics, concerns and expectations. (4)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Encounter bad weather which prevents nursery and greenhouse operations from proceeding as planned. For example, nursery growers and production managers are sometimes unable to proceed with planting and harvesting operations due to heavy rainfalls and strong winds. They then make schedule changes for their crews. (1)
  • Face staffing shortages on particular days. They contact casual and on-call employees to check their availabilities. If they cannot find enough replacement workers, they revise their own schedules and work later than originally planned. They may have to reschedule any remaining work. (2)
  • Find that products received from suppliers are of inferior quality and damaged. For example, growers and production managers receive plants whose tissue is wakened. Because of the increased risks of losing the plants, they seek price reductions and refunds from suppliers. (2)
  • Find that customers' orders have not been picked and shipped properly. For example, they may receive complaints from customers who are angry because the wrong plants have been included in shipments. They locate the requested plants and arrange for the fastest possible deliveries. (2)
  • Find that some workers fail to follow rules and to perform as expected. For example, growers and production managers find that some workers do not follow suggested procedures for insect, disease and weed control. They meet the concerned workers to discuss the underlying reasons for substandard work and remind them of employment requirements. (3)
Decision Making
  • Assign workers to job tasks. For example, nursery operators and managers assign workers to duties in different departments and product lines. They consider workers' availabilities and horticultural training, knowledge and experience. (2)
  • Select suppliers for nursery and greenhouse materials and equipment. For example, growers and production managers select suppliers for materials such as plant bulbs, seeds and cuttings, pesticides and fertilizers. They take into account factors such as the quality, specifications, prices and promised delivery dates of materials. (2)
  • Select flowers and nursery crops to grow and market. They consider sales trends in previous seasons, retail market demands, anticipated economic conditions and their abilities to successfully grow and market specific species. (3)
  • Select methods to grow and market flowers and nursery crops. For example, nursery operators decide to grow seedlings in cold frames rather than in open fields. Greenhouse operators establish the environmental conditions of the greenhouses, growth chambers and light rooms and select methods for crop production, irrigation, growth regulation, nutrition and postharvest care. Operators select promotional tools such as leaflets, brochures, catalogues, websites and newspaper and newsletter articles to increase the visibility of their nurseries and greenhouses. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the suitability of flora for particular situations and locations. They take into consideration factors such as the terrain, soil conditions, sun exposures and customers' preferences and budgets. (2)
  • Assess the suitability of candidates applying for seasonal jobs in nurseries and greenhouses. They review resumes to identify relevant work histories and educational achievements, interview potential candidates and analyse qualifications. (3)
  • Evaluate the performance of greenhouse and nursery workers. As part of these assessments, they observe workers as they carry out job tasks. They verify that all requested tasks have been completed, designated materials and equipment have been used and schedules, regulations and procedures have been respected. (3)
  • Assess the health of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. For example, tree growers assess the health of trees. They complete visual examinations, analyse foliages and consider factors such as the shape of the trees and the presence of discoloured, peeling, splitting or cracking bark or stunted growth. They also check coloured pictures of trees infected with varied types of diseases and take into account the characteristic appearance of these diseases at various stages in their life cycles. (3)
  • Evaluate the suitability of fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals. For example, nursery operators evaluate the suitability of pesticides. They identify criteria such as ease of use, safety and cost. They review information about ingredients, health hazards, handling, storage, disposal and other characteristics of chemical products in material safety data sheets. They are responsible if their crews use the wrong products and cause environmental damage. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Nursery and greenhouse operators and managers plan and organize job tasks to ensure the quality of their products, satisfy the needs of their many retail and wholesale customers and enhance profitability. Their ability to manage priorities, schedule their own activities and coordinate them with those of others is critical to their success. Changes in weather conditions, shortages of labour and materials, customers' complaints and other unforeseen circumstances force them to frequently reorganize job tasks. (4)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Nursery and greenhouse operators and managers plan, organize, direct and control the operations of nurseries and greenhouses. They are responsible for assigning tasks to greenhouse and nursery workers. (4)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the prices of many trees, shrubs, flowers and plants to recommend products which fit customers' budgets.
  • Remember the names, preferences and concerns of their workers and wholesale customers to facilitate communication and build rapport.
Finding Information
  • Find information about customers. For example, they find information on customers' needs, preferences and budgets by interviewing them. They find information on customers' orders by searching files and databases. (2)
  • Find information about new methods, procedures, technologies, products and services for crop production, insect, disease, weed and growth control, nutrition and postharvest care. For example, greenhouse operators and managers find information on new technologies for temperature regulation, irrigation, glazing and energy conservation by consulting colleagues and suppliers and searching trade magazines, online publications and suppliers' brochures and websites. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use word processing. For example, they write, edit and format text for letters, procedures, reports and promotional materials. They supplement text with imported photographs and scans. They use formatting features such as font styles and sizes, columns and heading levels. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they use e-mail programs such as Outlook to exchange e-mail messages and attachments with customers, colleagues and suppliers. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they use browsers such as Outlook to access product catalogues on suppliers' websites and complete order forms. They perform keyword searches to get information about specific trees, shrubs, flowers, plants, fertilizers, pesticides, diseases, growing techniques and equipment. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they use photo editing software to enlarge and print photos taken with digital cameras. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, they create and modify databases to track product inventories and orders using programs such as Access. They also search, display and print data from these databases. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they create planting, harvesting and care schedules, budget forecasts and invoices using spreadsheet programs such as Excel. They create spreadsheets to track hours worked by employees. They embed formulas to perform calculations. (3)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, nursery and greenhouse operators use accounting programs such as Acomba, QuickBooks and Simply Accounting to record financial transactions, calculate payroll and prepare pay cheques, invoices and financial statements, such as balance sheets and income and expense statements. (3)
  • May use other computer and software applications. For example, greenhouse operators and managers use environmental control software to ensure inside greenhouse temperatures stay within acceptable ranges. Managers and operators of larger facilities track plant maintenance data using computerized bar codes. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Nursery and greenhouse operators and managers coordinate and integrate job tasks with teams of workers who plant, cultivate and harvest trees, shrubs, flowers and plants, and serve nursery and greenhouse retail and wholesale customers. They direct, lead, supervise and maintain harmonious and effective interactions between team members to ensure the quality of nursery and greenhouse products, satisfy customers' needs and enhance profitability. (4)

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is an integral part of the work of nursery and greenhouse operators and managers. They are expected to stay abreast of new methods, technologies, products and services for crop production and insect, disease, weed and growth control. On a day-to-day basis, they learn by talking to workers, colleagues and suppliers, touring trade shows, browsing the Internet and reading catalogues, product information sheets, trade magazines, manuals, guides and scientific journals. They also attend conferences, training courses and seminars on topics such as biological pest control. (3)

Date modified: